Product designer Jonathan Krawczuk launched DesignedMade in 2009 to produce a simple collection of striking products, with the ethos ‘Designed with Manufacture in mind, Manufactured with Design in mind’. He is a committed supporter of the UK craft and manufacturing industries, and his designs do that wonderful thing of being perfectly functional but also fun. In 2010, he won the Launchpad award at Pulse (this year judged by Livingetc), and now finds his brilliant designs being exported all over the world. Let’s meet him (and his wonderful pooch, Gertie)…
Tell us about your studio. I work from home and have a lovely studio that looks out onto the countryside. I have one desk for my computer and day-to-day stuff – and then another one for model making. It’s a bit all over the place and slightly chaotic, with models and boxes vying for space, if it were my father’s office – he would describe it as an ‘organised mess’.
And, is there such a thing as your average working day? My days are extremely varied, it depends on what’s happening (and what’s most urgent!). I can be working in the studio, in the workshop or out on the road visiting potential stockists. One constant though is that my days tend to be long and I find myself working most weekends – at least for part of them. I love it, though, and wouldn’t change it.
Who or what inspired you to become a designer? I grew up around my father’s steel workshop in Yorkshire and developed an understanding and appreciation for the materials, processes and skill involved in creating products. I love workshops and making things, I get a huge sense of satisfaction and reward from taking an idea and eventually turning it into a finished product. I hope that the products that DesignedMade manufactures can not only benefit the people that use them but those who make them, too.
How do you get from idea in your head to finished piece? I’m very hands-on with my work, I love making things. As soon as I can translate an idea into something tangible I will create a model or prototype. I don’t like to spend too much time drawing or on the computer while I’m thinking about an idea for a product. The only way to understand an object properly is in 3-D, in physical form. As the models, drawings and prototypes are developed they become more sophisticated until they are production-ready. Often things get scrapped or put on the backburner midway through but they always seem to come back in some sort of form, further down the line.
What are you most proud of? I’m really proud of the fact that my brand, DesignedMade manufactures products in the UK. I’m not against manufacturing elsewhere, but I want to give something back to the industry, people and places that have shaped my ideas and beliefs. I’m also very proud of a project that I worked on with one of my closest friends and fellow designers, Caroline Sipos. In 2009 we collaborated to design a sculptural olive tree – used for serving and presenting olives. The design was in response to an aperitivo-themed competition brief set by Peroni and Alessi. Our design beat over 2,000 entries worldwide to win the Peroni Blue Ribbon Design Award.
How far ahead does your masterplan stretch? I plan (or at least think) a long away ahead. I believe that it is important to keep focused on the current, though, and have plenty of mini goals along the away. I think that if you don’t have these you can become disappointed and self-critical. It is important for me to think about longevity with things, so many brands and products today are just a flash in the pan. I’m always thinking further down the line but will usually have a year/18 months planned in advance. This planning includes new products, trade shows, any website development or maintenance, external communications, et cetera.
What do you hope to get out of Pulse this year? I hope that this year’s Pulse is as successful as last year’s for DesignedMade. We were awarded the Best Newcomer Launchpad 2010 – Thorsten van Elten award, which was a great honour and accolade. As well as taking orders from new stockists in the UK, we also took our first export order to Japan – which has subsequently led to a company distributing our products in Japan. Pulse is good fun, too, it’s great to see lots of old friends, especially for somebody who isn’t London-based…(anymore).
Other than designing, what makes you happy? I really enjoy walking in the countryside, with Gertie – our family dog [see below, Life.Style.etc is in love]. I also love watching football and cricket, I’m a passionate supporter of my local club, Huddersfield Town – and have been since the age of eight.
How would you spend your perfect weekend? I’ve got to say that my perfect weekend would be spent in the Alps, skiing. I absolutely love being up in the mountains, it’s the one place where I can get away from everything and feel most relaxed. I head to the Alps to avoid burnout! It’s so tranquil, fresh and far removed from my working life… Bliss.
Tell us a secret. When I was eight I went to watch my first football match. At half-time my father asked me if I was enjoying it, I replied with “yes” and then asked him which way our team was shooting!